Chimpanzee populations are currently found in 22 forested blocks along the western border of Uganda. Of these areas, six hold more than 75 percent of the total population of chimpanzees in the country. These areas include the Budongo Forest Reserve, Bugoma Forest Reserve, Kibale National Park, Kasyoha-Kitomi Forest Reserve, Maramagambo Forest and Kalinzu Forest Reserve. These six forests collectively house an estimated 3,000 chimpanzees.
In January 2000, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in collaboration with the Budongo Forest Project (BFP) initiated a snare removal program in the Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda. The objective was to reduce the number of snares being set as well as the number of animals being caught in them. The Project also sought to increase public awareness regarding this issue, ensuring that more local people would obey wildlife laws and understand the need for protecting wildlife. Watch the KQED sponsored short video about Oakland Zoo’s involvement in the Budongo Snare Removal Project.
Unfortunately, Uganda faces a crisis that many African countries share: the Bushmeat issue. Bushmeat is the term used for illegally hunted exotic animals killed for food. The poaching of bushmeat is sometimes done for sustenance, but more often it simply fuels a growing taste for exotic animals in restaurants. Snares used to trap these animals are causing injury and death to all kinds of species, including chimpanzees. Snares are wire loops designed to catch animals around the neck. As the animal struggles, the snare tightens. In an attempt to escape, many animals maim limbs that have been caught in these traps.
Research and Habitat Preservation
It is estimated that 25% of chimpanzees in Uganda have injuries from being caught in snares, so this project, which directly benefits forest wildlife, is critically important. Using two-man teams to locate and remove snares the number of snares being set within the research area have dropped. The census teams found that heavy poaching was being carried out in the southern end of the forest reserve, so the BSRP extended their range. The staff also monitors a small group of chimpanzees in the remnant forest patch called Kasokwa Central Forest Reserve.
Providing a Sustainable Alternative
An alternate source of income is provided to locals by BSRP’s gifting of three goats to individuals sworn to discontinue poaching. With annual breeding, these goats provide milk and food to their owners and prove a more profitable trade to former poachers.
Outreach and Education
Building public understanding about chimpanzees is a key focus of BSRP. From school programs, to community meetings, presentations, tracking classes, group hikes, citizen science, and online experiences, the Budongo Snare Removal Project aims to inform and enlighten.
As the sole-funder of BSRP, the Zoo raises funds through various means including an annual lecture every September. Our support funds salaries for four field assistants, two educators, two eco-guards, allowances for transportation and bike repair, and necessary gear. We undertook funding of the project in the 2001-2002 fiscal year and have made a commitment to continue our support.
Outreach and Education
The Zoo aims to use our immense access to the public to help wildlife, like the chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest through varied platforms. Information about the project is included in special event days, docent tours, classes and lectures.
Funds raised at our enlightening and informative annual benefit event every fall go directly to the project.